Typically a supporter of President Donald Trump’s actions, Sen. Marco Rubio on Thursday broke ranks with the president and condemned Israel’s decision to deny entry to two Muslim American lawmakers.
But his disagreement with the decision is not for the same reasons as Democrats who came to the defense of Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to The Hill.
“I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate,” Rubio wrote.
But then he indicated in his tweet that banning the two lawmakers was “a mistake” because he believes they wanted to be banned in order to “bolster their attacks against the Jewish state.”
The two lawmakers were set to visit Israel on Sunday as part of a fact-finding tour, which would include stops in Palestinian-controlled districts.
Rubio’s tweet came shortly after Trump tweeted that Israel would show “great weakness” if it permitted Tlaib and Omar entry into the country, given their past remarks about the Jewish state.
They also are one of the few supporters in all of Congress of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which was officially condemned in the House last month with a non-binding resolution, according to The New York Times. The two congresswomen were among only 16 Democrats in total who opposed the resolution.
Several groups and politicians expressed their anger at Israel’s choice to ban the two sitting U.S. congresswomen from visiting, including liberal, pro-Israel J-Street and the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Though Omar has criticized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the past, the group stated that “every member of Congress should be able to visit” Israel.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) August 15, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — two of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — posted tweets of condemnation after Israel made the announcement.
According to The Hill, Warren slammed Israel for banning U.S. lawmakers for their political views and called the move “shameful” and “unprecedented.” She then called for a reversal of the decision.
Sanders called the ban “a sign of enormous disrespect” in a Thursday tweet and echoed Warren’s call for the Israeli government to reverse the controversial decision.
Democratic front-runner and former vice president Joe Biden weighed in on the issue Thursday, reminding Israel that no democracy should ban people because of their political ideas while taking a shot at Trump for encouraging the decision.
I have always been a stalwart supporter of Israel—a vital partner that shares our democratic values. No democracy should deny entry to visitors based on the content of their ideas—even ideas they strongly object to. And no leader of the free world should encourage them to do so.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 15, 2019
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the decision to block Tlaib and Omar from visiting his country, citing their involvement with anti-Israel boycotts. Israeli law allows bans against people who support such actions.